Israel, U.S. Seeking Stronger UNIFIL in Lebanon

YERUSHALAYIM -
UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) patrol the border between Israel and Lebanon as it seen from Metula, northern Israel, August 27, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

As the U.N. Security Council readied to vote Thursday on renewing the mandate of UNIFIL, Israel and the United States were working toward a more robust framework for the peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

Israel has for years complained that UNIFIL forces have failed in their task, as Hezbollah built up its arsenal threatening Israel without impediment.

The U.S delegation was pressing to expand UNIFIL’s mandate to give it freedom of movement in Lebanon and to report on Hezbollah infractions of border protocols in real-time, according to a Ynet report on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Fox News reported on a Hezbollah ambush of a UNIFIL patrol near the Israeli border, in which they were blocked by armed men on a roadway.

“Hezbollah restricts UNIFIL from carrying out its role as a U.N. peacekeeping force, and the footage published today showing Hezbollah terrorists attacking a UNIFIL patrol in Southern Lebanon is just the latest example of many,” Elad Strohmayer, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington wrote in a blog post on The Times of Israel.

“The fact of the matter is that UNIFIL is currently not doing its job. The Security Council must guarantee UNIFIL’s freedom of movement and allow access to all sites in UNIFIL’s mandated area,” wrote Strohmayer. “Every incident where UNIFIL’s access has been prohibited must be fully investigated and transparently reported.”

“With this upcoming vote at the Security Council we have the opportunity to actually give UNIFIL the ability to do what it is supposed to rather than, yet again, automatically renewing its mandate,” he wrote.

The vote in the Security Council was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EST.